Sam and the Gymbag
A/N: See chapter 1 for disclaimer, spoilers, notes on AU, and why Xander has his eye back.
Sam mentioned, “Daniel, bring your infrared goggles, so you can see what we’ve got.”
Daniel clambered out of the SUV a few seconds later and slid around to the rear of the rented pickup. Sam noted how Daniel checked his surroundings as he moved, and stayed out of the brightest areas. It was interesting how Daniel, of all people, had managed to learn Jack’s lessons about team tactics and spec ops movement. Still, it had taken Daniel a lot of years to pick it all up.
Daniel whispered, “What do we have?”
Sam said, “Either this guy is the weirdest SCA role-player ever, or he’s prepared for a small medieval-scale war.” She lifted out a recurved crossbow and handed it to Daniel.
Daniel looked it over. “Modern construction. Definitely not a mock-up of a classic crossbow. So definitely not an SCA person.” He tugged on it. “And whoever he is, he’s strong. Even with this pullback mechanism, he’d have to exert a hell of a lot of force to cock this thing, and the recoil ought to be impressive when he fires it.”
Sam pulled out a bolt for the crossbow. “What do you think of this?”
Daniel looked it over. “Can I take this over and look at it under that streetlight?”
Sam said, “I’d rather you looked at it in the van.”
Daniel nodded, “Right.” He ditched the infrared goggles and slipped into the van to study the bolt. Sam had a rough idea what Daniel was going to find, because she had noticed that the bolt was of a really heavy hardwood, with some odd metal inlays at the tip and along the shaft of the bolt.
Daniel’s voice came through over the radio. “Sam, this is the weirdest crossbow bolt I’ve ever seen. A really sharp point with what looks like a titanium tip. Not trinium or steel, anyway. The inlays along the length of the shaft appear to be silver and wrought iron, by their look. Which makes no sense, because neither would provide the strength that the titanium would, and they’re simply linear strips of inlay, not ornamental in any way. It’s not like silver and iron have any special utility. The bolt looks like it’s very carefully machined, and the crossbow looks extremely modern. I don’t get it.”
Sam said, “If you wanted to kill someone, a crossbow bolt that unique would be pretty much the same as signing your name on it.”
Daniel agreed, “Sure. But if you wanted to put a heavy bolt right through a wall – or maybe heavy armor – this might be the thing to use, with a crossbow that powerful.”
Sam wasn’t ready to let it go. “But if that was your intent, then why use wood instead of, say, solid steel? Or trinium? Or, assuming you couldn’t get trinium, titanium alloy? And why add inlays that don’t help anything, and would just make it more likely that your bolt could fracture on impact?”
“Good points,” Daniel said. “Let me take some samples of the wood and the metals, and bag ‘em, and we’ll see if our physical scientists can come up with anything for us.”
Sam checked, “If that’s titanium or a titanium alloy, how are you going to take samples?”
Daniel said, “You know that trinium-bladed knife you told me not to bring? Well… I brought it. I can scrape off some tiny sample fragments.”
Oh great. She managed not to slap her palms against her face. “You can’t lose it, you know. It’s got to go back to base. Just walking around with it is a security risk.”
“I know. I’ll be careful,” he said. “What else you find?”
Sam had been pulling more gear out of the gymbag and laying everything out on the tailgate for inspection. “You’re not going to believe it. More of those crossbow bolts. A pistol crossbow with a dozen wood bolts. Steel tips, I think. They look like standard deer-hunting arrow tips. Very lethal. Four throwing knives. A moneybelt re-stitched with pouches to hold about two dozen little bottles full of powders and liquids. Ten hardwood stakes, carved down to sharp points, with carved handgrips on each one. A double-bladed battleaxe. A katana and a scimitar. A shortsword with a sheath, and straps that look like you could wear it under a coat like a big neck knife. A pistol squirtgun and a large supersoaker, both loaded with something liquid. Get two sample vials over here so we can get samples back to the lab. Two mason jars full of a thick liquid: the jars are scored so they’ll break if you throw them, and both have miniature magnesium flares glued to the side with tear-strips. I’m guessing these are Molotov cocktails, maybe with styrofoam chips dissolved in gasoline so you have homemade napalm.”
Sam said, “Yeah. Extremely nasty. But what do all these things have in common? And why did he take the trouble of getting all this stuff in the gymbag, if the rental agreement is right and he’s only been here for about two weeks? It’s a rental from the airport rent-a-car, so if he flew in, he couldn’t have carried all this with him.”
Daniel thought out loud. “Hmm. The waitress said construction workers. So maybe the Molotov cocktails are some kind of insurance scam? Arson?”
Sam said, “I doubt it. The flares and broken glass would leave a hell of a trace for the arson investigators.”
Daniel muttered, “There’s something we’re missing here.”
Sam said, “Oh yeah. Definitely. Have the SGC check and see if there are any murders or assaults connected to crossbows, swords and battleaxes, Molotov cocktails, throwing knives, or even getting stabbed to death with a wooden stake.”
Daniel asked, “Locally?”
Sam thought for a second. “Locally over the last two weeks. Then check nationally, especially in the Cleveland area.”
Daniel said, “On it.”
Sam put everything back in the gymbag, and moved it back into the far end of the truck bed. She checked, “Teal’c. Report.”
“Nothing yet, ColonelCarter. However, there are many bars, restaurants, shops, and other buildings into which they might have moved.”
“Daniel?” she asked.
“Okay, I’ve got the first report from the SGC. No police or fire reports matching Anise’s description. No hospital admissions matching her, either. One hospital admission that’s a very rough match for Xander Harris, but it’s a local teen named Pete Benson who shows up there with alcohol poisoning pretty regularly. And… Hang on a sec.”
Sam waited patiently while she closed up the truck. Daniel came back. “We got someone over to the Summerfield Suites. Xander Harris is staying there. No answer at his room. Hotel security checked for us, and he’s not in. Our people did a quick sweep, and nothing. The only thing unusual they found was a family-size box of Twinkies.”
Sam muttered to herself, “So where is he?”
Daniel asked, “Well, where would you be in his situation? Alone with a hot babe who’s been drinking too much?”
Sam winced a little. “Daniel? Let me just say this. Eww.” But she knew exactly what he meant. “Okay, once Teal’c has made his second sweep, let’s spread out. We’ll use my GIS map and hit every bar and motel in a ten-block radius.”
Daniel said, “Good thing we have Big T on the case.”
Teal’c came on over the radio, doing his Jack imitation. Jack as a film noir private eye. “She was a woman who’d make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window. I knew she was trouble the moment she walked into my office.”
Sam managed not to laugh out loud as she carefully put everything away and closed up the pickup truck. She moved to the SUV and pulled up the GIS map software on her laptop. She said, “Daniel, have the SGC liaison get the police to start checking with the cab companies. There’s only a few gypsy cabs in town, and we need to have the police check them too.”